The average American consumes about 156 pounds of sugar per year. Junk food is widely available, which further promotes bad eating habits. Therefore, it’s not surprising that one-third of adults and 17% of children and teens are obese.
Sugar does a lot more than just add inches to your waistline. This popular food ingredient may contribute to type two diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, and everything in between.
So, what happens if you eat too much sugar? Binging on candies and other treats on your birthday is unlikely to cause too much harm. But it’s one thing to indulge occasionally and another thing to eat sugary foods every day.
Sugar consumption has both immediate and long-term effects. Let’s see what sugar does to your body and how to satisfy your cravings the healthy way!
What Happens If You Eat Too Much Sugar?
Craving cookies or cake but you’re on a diet? Weight gain and its associated health problems take weeks or months to develop.
What you may not know is that sugar also has immediate effects on your body.
Think about how you feel after eating cake or chocolate. Your energy levels go up for an hour or two and then drop suddenly, leaving you feeling tired, sluggish, and drained. The explanation is simple.
After ingestion, sugar causes blood glucose spikes followed by crashes, leading to a vicious cycle.
You eat something sweet and feel amazing and then your energy levels drop, so you reach for another cookie to regain your energy and stamina. This can go on and on until the end of the day.
Over time, blood sugar fluctuations can lead to insulin resistance, type two diabetes, and weight gain. But that’s not all.
Sugar also promotes oral bacteria growth, causing dental caries and gum disease. It also damages the tooth enamel and depletes your teeth of essential minerals. Oral thrush and halitosis, or bad breath, are common side effects.
A diet rich in sugar may also trigger inflammation, which is a major risk factor for immune disorders, joint pain, and cardiovascular problems.
This ingredient stimulates the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, putting you at risk for a host of health issues.
Some immediate effects of sugar on the body include:
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and depression
- Acne flare-ups
- Stomach pain
- Acid reflux
Another immediate effect of sugar is an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This additive can be converted into glucose within minutes, affecting your heart in the short- and long-term.
Sugar and Water Retention
Gaining weight for no reason? A lesser-known effect of sugar on your health is fluid retention.
After ingestion, this additive is converted to glucose and used for energy. The rest is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.
Once your glycogen stores are full, your body stores excess sugar as fat in adipose tissues.
Each gram of glycogen holds about 3 grams of water. Therefore, the more sugar you eat, the more water your body will hold. You may also experience bloating and digestive distress.
How Sugar Affects Your Brain
While it’s true that your brain needs glucose, too much of it can be harmful. Due to its inflammatory effects, sugar can affect brain function and accelerate aging.
Regular sugar consumption may lead to memory impairment, cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative diseases. For example, a 2016 study suggests that high-sugar diets affect spatial memory.
Furthermore, this harmful ingredient is highly addictive. Sugary foods activate the same brain areas as nicotine, opiates, and other drugs, leaving you craving for more.
As mentioned earlier, sugar also causes inflammation in the brain. In the long run, it may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
On top of that, it affects your mood and may worsen anxiety or depression due to its impact on blood glucose levels.
Sugar Weakens Your Immune System
Binging on cookies and other sugary treats can lower your immunity for hours. Over time, sugar consumption can impair immune function, leaving you vulnerable to diseases.
This harmful ingredient affects the white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting bacteria. At the same time, it triggers inflammation and contributes to the onset of chronic illnesses.
Consuming 2.6 to 3.5 ounces of sugar can temporarily hinder your natural defenses. It may not seem like much, but that’s actually the equivalent of two cans of soda.
Cut Down on Sugar Without Feeling Deprived
Now that you know what sugar does to your body, it’s time to remove it from your diet. Don’t fret, though — ditching the sugar doesn’t have to be difficult.
A diet rich in lean protein, veggies, and green smoothies can stop sugar cravings and boost your energy. Fill up on whole foods and try to recreate your favorite recipes using healthier ingredients.
Here are some good substitutes for sugar:
- Stevia, a natural sweetener
- Low-sugar fruits, like berries and avocado
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Pureed bananas
- Organic peanut butter
If you have a busy schedule, you can always opt for meal delivery services to make sugar detox easier.
At Wholesome2Go, we offer nutritious, healthy meals without soy, high-sugar fruits, grains, and additives. Our goal is to help you cut sugars completely so your body can start burning fat for fuel.
The problem with most foods is that they contain hidden sugars, such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, and molasses. Sugar is sugar, no matter where it comes from.
Protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients can improve appetite control and curb sugar cravings.
A meal consisting of salmon and veggies, for instance, is a lot more satiating than a bag of cookies. It not only keeps you full longer but also provides steady energy without crashes.
Restore Your Energy and Enjoy Better Health
Giving up sugar doesn’t have to be difficult. Our delicious, healthy meals offer optimum amounts of lean protein, good fats, fiber, and other nutrients that promote satiety and aid in weight loss.
All of our ingredients are sourced from local organic farmers, which ensures their quality and freshness. But don’t just take our word for it — try our meal plans to free up your time and lose those pesky pounds once and for all.
Still wondering what happens if you eat too much sugar?
Browse the rest of our blog to find out more! Make sure you check our guide to the most common nutrition pitfalls that keep you from reaching your health goals!